Author Archives: Michael Coorlim

About Michael Coorlim

Michael Coorlim is a teller of strange stories for stranger people. He collects them, the oddballs. The mystics and fire-spinners, the sages and tricksters. He curates their tales, combines their elements and lets them rattle around inside his rock-tumbler skull until they gleam, then spills them loose onto the page for like-minded readers to enjoy.

My Laptop Died, and I Need a New One

Two years ago my laptop’s case started to crack right around the AC cord’s port. Shortly after that, it stopped running off of battery power and became, essentially, a light and underpowered desktop model. I was stuck working from home, which sucked, but I could still do my job. I finished Iron Horses Can’t Be Broken, composed the audio drama script, and went on to write both Shadow Decade books.

Why didn’t I get a new laptop? Well, this writing gig pays the bills, but it doesn’t afford me much in the way of luxury, and as long as it still ran, a new laptop was just that. Luxury.

That’s part of being poor, though. Making things last. Going without, and learning what you can’t go without.

Yesterday afternoon my laptop finally gave up, refusing to draw power from the wall. Requisat en pace, lappy.

This, of course, leaves me with quite the conundrum. I cannot write without a laptop. I cannot design games. I can’t do any of the stuff I’ve been doing for the last seven years to make money.

This is a problem.

So now I need a new laptop, don’t have the funds, and don’t have the means of earning money without one. I make ~ $100 a month through my patreon, but saving that up for a new laptop will take months, all the while my royalties slowly degrade as long as I’m not putting out new content. That’s normal and not a huge problem so long as I’m working on my next release, but saving up for a new computer will put all my releases back a few months.

Sucks, right?

So my solution is to run an IndieGoGo Campaign to raise the funds for a new laptop. I’ve written a lot of books, so that gives me a bunch of rewards to hand out for support. Take a look, maybe donate a few bucks to my laptop fund. Or if you’re unable to offer me financial assistance, it’s also a huge help if you spread the word, post about the campaign on social media, etc.

I’d really appreciate it if you’d at least take a look… I’m kinda in dire straits here.

Thanks.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

2018 Price Increases

After seven years of publishing my books, I’m going to raise my prices. I go into detail here, but long story short is that my expenses have increased, and I think my novels are worth at least $5.

It’ll probably be a week or two before I raise my prices, so if you’re on the fence about picking anything up, now’s the time.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Long Overdue

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been self-publishing ebooks for 7 years, and I only just now got a kindle.

Yeah.

I picked up a paperwhite, and it’s pretty neat. Not only is it a lot easier on the eyes than my phone was, but it automatically goes to sleep when the case is closed. Pretty nifty, if you ask me.

More importantly, it lets me read again, and I have a lot to catch up on.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Best Laid Plans of 2018

A new year, a new you, a new me. Here’s what I’ll be up to in 2018.

Prose

First thing I want to do is wrap up Open Proxy, third book in the Shadow Decade series. Where the series goes from here depends entirely on sales; if sales are strong, I’ve got plans for another two books in the series. If not, Erica’s story will come to a satisfactory end here, with an option to write more down the line if there’s demand for it.

Midwestern Requiem will continue, with a target of one episode every month. I’m not happy that my financial situation threw off the publishing schedule at the end of the year, but things have stabilized to a degree and I can get back to work on it. I’ve got a long and twisting storyline in mind, and if you’re one of my Patrons, you can help decide which way it goes.

I’m also going to be writing a novel to query around to agents and publishers, to dip my toes into the wild world of traditional publishing.

Games

I’ve been neglecting Taoscordian Games, the imprint under which I publish role-playing game supplements. I’ve got some ideas that’ll get that moving again, including a Galvanic Century setting book and a revision of the Hexbox sandbox hexcrawl system.

Speaking of Galvanic Century, the next book is going to be an interactive novel, though to what degree I cannot quite state. It might be written in Twine or perhaps a visual novel, depending on what art assets I can afford to commission.

Up in the air

I’d like to continue with my Twitch broadcasts, but finding the time has been problematic. I’d prefer to do it consistently or not at all.

While I enjoyed interviewing other creatives for Working Class Creatives after a year it still hasn’t really taken off. Interviewing, editing, publishing, and setting up interviews takes a lot of time and effort, and while I’ve met some really cool people through it, if nobody’s listening… it just isn’t worth my time to continue.

I’m feeling fairly disenchanted with YouTube in general, so I don’t know if I’m going to continue with my channel. Maybe I’ll just keep it around for the few times I feel like making a video, I don’t know.

My primary means of communication and interaction with my fans is going to be through my Patreon. Much of what I’ll be posting there will be public, though the fans invested enough to support me with at least a dollar a month get more from me, as is only fair.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

2018

It’s been what, seven or eight months? Time to go into Taoscordian Games’s plan for 2018.

Hexbox

Our first project for the new year is going to be a revision of the Hexbox system. We’ve had a year to work on it, a year of errata, a year of development and exciting new ideas. It’ll still be free and more or less compatible with Ibu: The Emerald Canopy, but probably a bit heftier, with more material added to it. It remains to be seen if Ibu will get an update, but there are further books in the series planned for a 2018 release.

Galvanic Century

Later in the year we also have plans to adapt Michael Coorlim’s Galvanic Century steampunk book series into Fate-compatible setting books covering an alternate-history Edwardian era, where pseudoscience dictates reality.

Interactive Fiction

A number of solo-player interactive fiction scenarios are planned, set within the Heroic Explorations settings, allowing players to visit these stories without the need for a group or gamemaster. Adventure scenario modules for more traditional tabletop play will be developed pending demand.

And that’s it! That’s Taoscordian Games’s 2018 docket. Subject to change, of course.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Livestreaming NaNoWriMo on Twitch

This year, for National Novel Writing Month, I’m going to be conducting an experiment in accountability. That’s what NaNoWriMo is for me – I’ve written nine novels already, so “finish a book” isn’t as big a goal as it used to be. No, what I need is something to get my butt in that seat on an everyday basis despite all of my other responsibilities and distractions.

A 50k word deadline in 30 days is a good start, but this year I’m taking it a step further by livestreaming my daily wordcount.

That’s right.

Every day for the month of November I’ll be logging on to Twitch to write, publicly, the rough draft for the third novel in the Shadow Decade series, Open Proxy. No blinds, no filters, just raw unadulterated text.

And oh man, when I say rough draft, I mean that this draft is gonna be rough. You may have heard that “writing is rewriting.” It’s very true in my case. My work doesn’t even approach presentable until its third or fourth iteration.

So why am I showing strangers on the internet the ugly side of my prose?

Accountability. I’m doing it every day, and you can come with and laugh at me. Maybe it’ll assure you that rough draft material doesn’t need to be golden words from the lips of god, but rather a rough slash of the word-knife across unblemished page.

Maybe you’ll get a glimpse into what it’s like turning an outline into prose, and just how much I actually deviate over the course of a typical project.

Maybe you’ll see my work and want to hire me as a consultant or developmental editor to help whip your own story into shape.

I don’t know, man, I just work here. You can come along, see how it works, ask questions, but hey, spoilers will abound. If you haven’t read the first two Shadow Decade novels, Cold Reboot and Network Protocol, you might feel a bit lost, so consider picking those up first… I’ll be busy trying to make my daily wordcount, and won’t want to send time answering questions about the earlier books.

So check me out, on my Twitch channel, 8pm CST all throughout November.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Midwestern Requiem serial episode 1 excerpt

The Murphysboro Ladies’ Book Club had become a coven so gradually that at first nobody had noticed.

Holly Lu was not having it. “This is beyond the pale, Katherine. Even for you.” Her eyes darted to the dribbly candles, colorful crystals, and reed-woven designs that now decorated the Andersons’ living room, purse clutched tightly in her hands.

Katherine looked up from the ritual notes she’d printed up, surprise melting to irritation, and gave a meaningful nod towards the kitchen. She could just hear Amy’s soft voice contrasting with the rise and fall of Sharon’s rapid babble, though she couldn’t make out what the pair were saying.

“I swear, this is just too much.” Holly looked pointedly at Susan, who’d only half taken off her coat.

Susan’s smile wavered, and she slipped her coat back up onto her shoulder. “It is a bit much, Kathy.”

Katherine’s eyes dropped back down to the page she was reading. “There’s no call to be so close-minded, Holly.” Her voice was carefully level.

“Close-minded?” Holly didn’t take the hint. “Katherine, I have been very very patient with the new girl and her… her eccentricities. She’s young. Finding herself. Experimenting. That I can understand, that I can tolerate. But this… pagan rituals?”

Mr. Sprinkles, the Anderson family’s six-year-old calico, watched the interplay with disinterest, sitting on the sofa with one leg raised high as she groomed herself.

“It does seem a bit… unchristian,” Susan said, though it came out as more of a question.

“The new girl’s name is Amy and she’s been a member of the Book Club for seven months.”

Katherine’s gaze held Holly’s over the edge of the print-out. “I’m getting tired of explaining to you that we’re a nondenominational organization. You’re allowed to say your Baptist prayers at Christmas and

Easter, Amy planned the Samhain party for Halloween.” She was careful to pronounce the unfamiliar holiday correctly, sow-in not sam-hane. “It’s the same thing.”

“It is most certainly not the same thing!” Holly’s face was reddening. “And it isn’t just the party. The prayer before Imbolc? The ritual to ask the gods for help passing her phlebotomy exam? It’s heathen!”

“Wiccan. Heathen is something else.” Katherine was fairly sure.

“Listen to you! You’re a good Catholic, Katherine. What would Father Paterson say if he knew how much you’d taken to Amy Forrester and her, her ways?”

“Oh, Amy and her ways.” Katherine didn’t exactly raise her voice, but it did gain an edge. “I swear, you’re going to give yourself a stroke if you don’t unclench that jaw, Holly.”

“Well.” Holly tucked her purse under her arm. “I can see that you’re too far gone down the devil’s path for reason. I wish you well with your… your Blasphemy Club, Katherine.” She strode to the door.

Susan followed, looking back and forth between Holly and Katherine with little darting glances.

Katherine followed them to the door. “You’re leaving? Now? Right when Sharon needs us?”

Holly opened the door and paused, halfway out. “You’re the one who needs help, Katherine. And I only hope that Jesus’s light can help you crawl out of this dark pit you’ve thrown yourself into. Come along, Susan.”

Katherine put an arm out to bar the shorter woman’s way. “You too Susan? Come on, you loved reading Practical Magic.”

Susan gave a half smile and ducked under Katherine’s arm. “I’m sorry, I have to go.” She slipped out the door.

“Well, shit.” Katherine slowly closed the door, honestly taken aback at how quickly things had gotten out of hand. Holly had always been a bit zealous in her Christianity, and out of all the book club members the most likely to challenge Katherine’s authority on minor matters. And Susan… well, Susan was a wildcard, the sort of woman who’d follow the loudest voice, and this time that’d been Holly.

Disappointing, really, but not terribly surprising.

Maybe Holly had a point. Maybe Katherine had gone too far in trying to accommodate Amy and her unusual beliefs. Maybe it was a step too far in choosing paganism as the Book Club’s theme for the year, letting Amy choose books tied to her faith, going so far as to head out to that little antique shop out in De Soto to get the curios to decorate her living room to fit that theme. Maybe she was endangering her immortal soul, trafficking with witchcraft.

But so what? Holly was a busybody that the club was better off without, and Katherine wasn’t the sort of woman who did anything by half-measures. And Susan… well, they were still on the school’s bake sale committee together, so Katherine would have ample opportunity to win her back. And if not? No big loss. Susan’s lemon bars never came out right, anyway.

Amy poked her head out of the kitchen. “Is everything okay? We thought we heard shouting.”

Katherine returned to the coffee table, shooing away Mr. Sprinkles and straightening the candlestick she’d knocked over. “Holly and Susan have elected not to participate in today’s ritual.”

“Oh.” Amy watched the cat scamper off out of the room. “It’s for the best. Their energy wasn’t really conducive to the work we’re going to be doing.”

“No.” Katherine put her laptop on top of the table, scrolling through her bookmarks to find the ritual she’d found earlier. “It wasn’t. How’s Sharon?”

“Better. As well as can be expected. Should I get the sage?”

“Yes.” Katherine straightened one of the sofa cushions. “You do that.”


Midwestern Requiem is a horror serial set in the mythic midwest of Southern Illinois’s Little Egypt, suburban sprawl trapped between the crumbling outlet malls and the endless fields of corn bisected by lost highways to nowhere. Kitchen witches and small-town teachers stand against eternal winters and the lies we tell ourselves under a land-locked moon.

During the solar eclipse a young girl goes missing from a school trip while everyone’s eyes are on the totality. The police, her parents, and her friends are at a loss to find out where’s she’s gone or even to explain her disappearance… but where the ways of the modern world fail, the traditions of old may yet hold hope, but magic always holds its price.

Midwestern Requiem is made available free to the supporters of my Patreon as an interactive serial – patrons can vote on the direction the story takes at the end of each chapter. It will later be made available through Amazon, though only patrons will have voting privileges.

So if you want to read the whole first episode, you can pick it up through Amazon. If you want to keep reading and have a say in which way the story unfolds, consider signing up to support my work.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

How Self-Publishing Saved My Life

Self-Publishing saved my life. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

In 2010 I was broke and homeless, couch surfing and living off the fumes of a never terribly vibrant bank account. I hadn’t been able to find any freelance gigs in months, and it’d been far loger since I’d been anything other than self-employed. I was registered with several creative temp agencies, and would occasionally score an interview or two.

Bupkis.

I was running out of money and burning through what little goodwill my very patient friends still had for me. My twenties and thirties had been spent nomadic, living out of a suitcase, drifting about in a way that wasn’t anywhere as romantic as it sounds, but I’d never had such a difficult time finding work. This was new and terrible.

As you might imagine, the charm of sending out endless resumes and going on interviews wore thin after awhile. I began to first resent, then dread the treadmill. Writing became my form of procrastination.

I’ve always been a storyteller

I was a compulsive writer as a kid, filling notebooks with drawings before I could spell. And the reading. So much reading. I’d bring a book with me everywhere. I’d sneak books to read hidden under the lip of my desk during lectures. Classic lit, books from the class cart, whatever I could find. Lots of Bradbury. I think he was my favorite, but it’s hard to connect with who I was back then.

My twenties were spent hopping from menial job to menial job. Mall cop. Quality control in a chemical plant. Janitor in a state mental hospital. Day laborer. Whatever I could do to keep myself going until I drifted on to something else, never making much money, never having a life to really call my own. I stopped writing somewhere along the way, stopped reading. There was nothing but work, sleep, and work again, skimming the poverty line, wearing away all of my most interesting ridges bit by bloody bit. I’m sure I lived some interesting stories, but they’re not something I’m ready to talk about yet.

I still self-identified as a writer. Still figured I’d get back to it some day. Still bought copies of Writer’s Market every year, but I never got any further than sending off for submission guidelines. And eventually, “some day” turns into “never.”

Back to Self-Publishing.

So it’s mid-2010. I write a short story about the apocalypse, a literary horror thing, my first bit of fiction in over a decade. I liked it. Friends I showed it to liked it. I found myself a list of all the publications likely to pick it up, chose one, checked out their web page, and sent it off.

Then went back to the job hunt, largely forgetting about what I’d written. A month or so later I get a rejection notice — my first rejection for the first story I’d ever submitted, the first story I’d written in years. I’d steeled myself for this. I knew this was the biz. I’d read enough articles.

Except.

This was a personal rejection. The editor included a note that the story was

An almost. Brutal in a Lord of the Flies sort of way.

And I found that very encouraging. My first story, my first rejection, an almost.

Well.

My old dreams came flooding back. I remembered what it was like to have aspirations, to believe that I could be something, that I could have something. Suddenly, I really wanted to be a writer again. I wanted writing, to be my life. And I was good enough!

And yet I didn’t send the story out again immediately. I was close to going from “couchsurfing homeless” to “gutter homeless.” It’d take at least a month to sell the story, then many more months for the story to be published before I’d see a dime.

I didn’t have time for that. But I lived in the future now, didn’t I?

I said SELF-PUBLISHING

I’d been hearing about self-publishing and the way that e-marketplaces had been changing the landscape, but hadn’t looked into it too deeply. I did some research and found out that the payoff would be much sooner — royalties were disbursed two months after accrual. That I could do. Two months I had.

So I wrote a few more stories, researched self-publishing some more, and put them up on Amazon. That first month I made ten dollars.

Ten real dollars. I was a goddamn professional author.

The next month I made thirty. Enough to chip in a little for food, so I didn’t feel like so much the mooch. By the end of 2012 I was taking in four-figures of royalties every month, living in my own place.

So that’s me.

That’s my story. How I got where I am. I’m not rich, not by a longshot, but I’d consider myself a successful professional author. Sure, the market moved on, and Amazon changed things up so that I’m back to barely scraping by, but I know what I’m doing. Any one book could be the one that takes off unexpectedly, my lottery tickets to financial stability and the heights of a lower-middle class lifestyle.

Until then, until I make it, I’ll keep plugging away, keep writing, keep trying new things. It’s all I can do.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Three Interactive Serial Pitches

My next project is an interactive serial where my patrons are able to vote on the direction the story flows at the end of each episode. I have three prospective story ideas to choose between, and I’m letting potential readers vote on which one they find the most appealing.

To help people decide, I’ve created a pitch video containing information on each of the three potential storylines.

Have an opinion? Questions? Let me know in the comments.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.